Bridge Mix Battle: See's vs. Recchiuti

Ben Narasin
See's Bridge Mix (l), Recchuiti Asphalt Jungle Mix (r)
Bridge is the new poker, and bridge mix... well, it's the same thing it has always been, a tasty, chocolate covered, treat. Bay Area folk have always had an advantage, on the mix side, because of See's. If you don't live in one of the 13 states with See's stores, you're only getting their candy by mail.

As an East Coast kid I was introduced to See's by one of my roommates in college. He'd covet his shipment of See's from home, and I'd try to find where he had hidden them. We just do bridge mix better out here.

For those who haven't had it, bridge mix is an assortment of small chocolate-covered tidbits meant to be placed in bowls for players to snack on as they play. You don't need to play cards to like it; many people like the mix more than the game.

See's has long been the bridge mix master, but it's at risk of being trumped.
Recchiuti has joined the game with its Asphalt Jungle Mix (I guess the city by the Bay has enough bridges already).

Clearly, with two players bidding for the same place at the table it's time for a bridge mix battle. Since I didn't define the rules of engagement in my last chocolate battle, here's how the winner is decided:

1) Fresh product is secured from both vendors.
2) Boxes are opened at the same time, visually inspected for appearance and flaws, and sorted for variety.
3) The tasting begins. 
4) Each variety is tasted and scored.
5) Scores are tallied.
6) Highest score wins.

So what did I determine from Sees v. Recchiuti? 

The short answer is these are both very good, but Recchiuti's is better. See's is an all-around crowd-pleaser, while Recchiuti delivers a more sophisticated experience. Specifically:

Recchiuti offers a mix of chocolate covered and cacao-dusted nibs that delivers more of  chocolate's purest essence. See's morsels are polished to a car-wash shine which looks better in the bowl. 

Recchiuti throws in dried cherries which are a tart treat, hazelnuts and almonds, which come off as chocolate shop specialties, and wonderful burnt caramel and peanut butter pieces.

See's has a slightly more classic take on the theme, with some signature products mixed in.  See's proprietary Bordeaux-style nugget is a favorite of mine, and my wife is constantly searching for the toffee pieces (she says there are too few of them and too many walnuts).  Raisins, caramels, brittle and pecans all coated in dark and milk chocolates round out the bowl. The flavors are classically candy; the chocolate-covered almonds remind me of the ones at Trader Joes: better than M&M's mediocre approach to almonds, but candy all the same.

For a time you could buy bridge mix by the pound at See's retail shops solely in dark or milk chocolate, but now both bulk and box are sold only mixed.

Other than the fact that these are both so addictive and easy to eat that my sugar sickness is almost keeping me from writing this piece, I'm a wholehearted endorser of both. But every battle has a winner, and the scores give the win (like a boxer on decision) to Recchiuti.

See's and Recchiuti are both available at their respective retail locations. See's bridge mix retails for $16.50 for a one pound box and Recchiuti's asphalt jungle is $12 for a 6 oz box. In case you are wondering about the math that translates into $32 a pound for the Recchiuti so you're paying a significant premium, but that's inevitably the case when you buy the best, even when the winner inches out the win.

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Mary Leonard
Mary Leonard

The shiny coating is shellac.  Do you really want to eat varnish?  I do not understand why you would want to compare these two products.  There is simply no comparison in the quality of the chocolate itself.  They are simply two very different animals.  I find that my chocolates are compared to others and for some reason, price is usually a huge part of the comparison.  Until an individual develops a discerning palate for chocolate it's a pointless exercise.

Ben Narasin
Ben Narasin

At that;s what makes a horse race, or a bridge game.  Each is a different product, each enjoyable in their own way.  There are simple, inexpensive products that are great, and expensive complex products that are not (some wines I have tasted come to mind).

I'm interested to hear the comment on shellac.  i assumed a food grade wax or a conching process which can deliver a nice sheen.  Tell me more about the coatings used in chocolate.  Tell me more about your chocolates.  Feel free to e-mail me directly at sfoodieben@gmail:disqus .com


I think the point of the shiny coating is that you don't mess up your cards with chocolate finger prints. Looks like the Recchuiti might be too messy for actual bridge...

Ben Narasin
Ben Narasin

There was a modest dusting of cacao powder on the green felt when I spread out the pieces to choose for the tasting but it wiped off easily and wouldn't trouble me in the game at all.  We were introduced to the mix at a friends house during a bridge party and I don;t remember any complaints.

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